Sunday, May 15, 2011


The day before Easter we went to Bandelier National Park since it was free entrance day.  Now I'm finally getting around to blogging about it.  It took us a while to get there since Pat got directions off of Google and Google gets everything around here wrong.  Okay, yeah, there was a road, but to take it you needed and off road vehicle or dirt bike.  (We found this out after going 1 mile in our van while dirt bikes raced around us probably laughing.  It was so narrow and uneven with boulders everywhere it was amazing that we even found a spot to turn around.  Oh, and that mile took us 15 minutes.  So we had to go back and around a different way taking about 4 hours instead of two to finally get to Bandelier.  Everything worked out well though and it was a perfect day!  I was so glad my friend and native New Mexican Chantelle told me about how awesome this place is!

The first thing we came upon as we walked were these "boxes".   We were trying to figure out what in the world they could be for.  They looked like rooms, but there were no doors, just solid adobe and rock walls.  We found out later that these were rooms and homes, but they used to have roofs with a hole in the middle and a ladder to get in and out of the home through the roof.  That's why we couldn't find any doorways! 

The cave dwellings were my favorite however.  Is it weird that I really would like to live here?  (Okay until it got too cold.)  Still, it would be so fun to live here!  These cliff dwellings were like a whole cities with winding paths and many rooms.    I loved crawling into these stone caves and imagining my family living there.  It must have been really neat! 

Notice all the caves and the stairs made out of rock.  Handrail was added by the National Parks Service of course.  This place is fascinating!  It seemed like every person that passed us was a tourist from a different country.  We heard a lot of different languages.  We hope they liked it.  We sure fell in love with this place.

Evan looking out, with the rest of the family in the background.

Sometimes they enhanced the cave dwelling by adding a stone front onto it to make it larger and more comfortable.

The cliffs were very high!  Here we are looking at ancient paintings on the walls.

And if you look closely you can see some of the ancient carvings in the cliff wall.  All of the holes across the bottom of the rock were where wooden poles from a roof once were.

This is us now walking along the path that leads to the extra high Alcove House.  Formerly known as Ceremonial Cave, this alcove is located 140 feet above where we are walking in this picture.  How do you get up there?  You climb really, really tall ladders.

Suddenly as we were walking we saw a mother bear with her two bear cubs.  I know it's hard to see in this picture, but they were really close.  I thought at this point that we should get away quickly, but a forest ranger had been notified and came up with some rubber bullets in case the bears got too close.  The ranger was really upset because the bear was showing no fear of the gathering crowd and continued to roll around playing with her cubs.  She thought she'd have to shoot the bear just to install a fear of humans (otherwise if the bear ever hurt a human it'd have to be put down).   We continued on... tiptoeing by...  FYI - on our way back over an hour later, the bears were still there!

LN and I decided to stay on solid ground while the boys laddered up 140 feet!

Halfway up, perched on a ledge, waiting for their turn at the next ladder.

D and S going up!  I told Pat that it would be safer if he took the boys one at a time, but the boys all went together and Pat just watched over E really well.  Plus by the time they were done Pat was worn out.  It's a lot of leg work!
Here's a picture of got off the internet of the same ladder that D and S are going up in the previous picture.  You can kind of see better how large this cliff dwelling is!
They made it!  This ceremonial cave was a special place but it was also the home of several families.   One of the homes is pictured behind the boys.
Here is E going down the ladder into the home through the hole in the middle of the roof!

It was really dusty inside!

Can you imagine hauling all of your food and water up the ladders to this place?   This is halfway down! The boys waiting for their turn on the ladder looking down at me.  I love learning about how people lived!  Isn't it amazing?


Anonymous said...

These are great pictures! It really looks like the entire family is having a great day! On your way to Blanding in July, see if you can go to Chaco Canyon. The ruins there are close to the road and it only takes about an hour to do the tour.Janis

Christy said...

I have done caves like those before and they are awesome. I could totally imagine living there too. Wouldn't it be fun to have a camping night there? What a fun adventure! The shot of the bears is amazing. I know it isn't good in the long run but how fun to have been there for that. Your kids will never forget that either.